Japan

Japan pursuing tight oil at home, may seek it abroad too

14 Aug 2017   Japan

Japanese upstream companies are looking to tight oil to supplement dwindling domestic output and may seek to use the experience gained to become involved in similar projects abroad. Japan Petroleum Exploration intends to seek out further prospects by the end of March 2020 over three years since the drilling of Japan’s first horizontal exploration well in the Onnagawa tight formation at its onshore oil field in northwestern Akita province. “While we cannot commit ourselves yet, we will look into the opportunities while monitoring oil prices during the current medium-term business plan,” Satoru Yokoi, geologist and technical fellow of Japex’s Japan-Onnagawa shale oil project team said in an interview with S&P Global Platts. Japex, which earlier this year concluded a pilot test involving multi-stage fracturing from a horizontal well, successfully fractured mostly as intended in the Onnagawa formation, Yokoi, one of Japan’s shale pioneers, said. After drilling and fracturing from […]

Mazda announces SKYACTIV-X: gasoline Spark Controlled Compression Ignition

9 Aug 2017   Japan

Mazda Motor Corporation announced “Sustainable Zoom-Zoom 2030,” a new long-term vision for technology development that looks ahead to the year 2030. As part of the new technology to achieve this vision, the company disclosed plans to introduce a next-generation gasoline engine called SKYACTIV-X in 2019. SKYACTIV-X—which Mazda believes will be the first commercial gasoline engine to use compression ignition—uses a proprietary combustion method called Spark Controlled Compression Ignition (SPCCI). Mazda says that SCCI overcomes two issues that has impeded commercialization of compression ignition gasoline engines: maximizing the zone in which compression ignition is possible and achieving a seamless transition between compression ignition and spark ignition. This new proprietary combustion engine combines the advantages of gasoline and diesel engines to optimize environmental performance, power and acceleration performance. Compression ignition combined with […]

Mazda announces breakthrough in long-coveted engine technology

9 Aug 2017   Japan

Mazda Motor Corp unveiled plans for the world’s first commercial gasoline engine using compression ignition, placing traditional engines at the center of its strategy days after saying it would develop electric cars with Toyota Motor Corp. Mazda, whose research and development (R&D) budget is a fraction that of Toyota, could be the first automaker to commercialize a technology that many peers including General Motors Co and Daimler AG have been working on for decades. Mazda on Tuesday said it would start selling cars equipped with the new engine from 2019, even as other automakers increasingly turn to on electric vehicles against a landscape of tightening environmental regulation. “We think it is an imperative and fundamental job for us to pursue the ideal internal combustion engine,” said Mazda’s head of R&D Kiyoshi Fujiwara. While “electrification is necessary … the internal combustion engine should come first,” he told […]

Iran Signs Deal With Japan’s Toyo To Boost Output At Offshore Field

18 Jul 2017   Iran, Japan

The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) signed on Monday a memorandum of understanding with a consortium that includes Japan’s engineering group Toyo to revamp the facilities and upgrade gas production at the Salman field in the Persian Gulf. Iranian company Petropars is also part of the consortium, Iran’s oil ministry’s news service, Shana, reported. Under the memorandum of understanding, NIOC, Petropars, and Toyo will finance studies for the rehabilitation project, but if they decide to turn the MoU into a deal, it would be an Engineering, Procurement, Construction and Finance (EPCF) contract, with the Japanese firm financing the project, Shana quoted Gholamreza Manouchehri, deputy for development and engineering at NIOC, as saying. According to Oil & Gas Journal , the Salman oil and gas field that straddles the Iranian-UAE maritime border holds 473 million barrels of oil and 5.2 bcm of natural gas. Studies for the fie from the […]

Fukushima’s Nuclear Waste Will Be Dumped Into the Ocean, Japanese Plant Owner Says

17 Jul 2017   Japan, Nuclear, Water

Toxic waste produced by one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters will be dumped into the sea, according to the head of the Japanese company tasked with cleaning up the radioactive mess, despite protests from local fishermen. Takashi Kawamura, chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), told foreign media that nearly 777,000 tons of water tainted with tritium, a byproduct of the nuclear process that is notoriously difficult to filter out of water, will be dumped into the Pacific Ocean as part of a multibillion-dollar recovery effort following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. That year, an earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, killing more than 15,000 people and leading to a series of meltdowns at the TEPCO-owned Fukushima No. 1, or Daiichi, nuclear power plant, causing it to spew radiation that has plagued the region ever since. While much progress has been made to clean the area, the company […]

Tokyo Tech team develops low-cost germanium-free solid electrolyte for Li-ion batteries

15 Jul 2017   Electric Cars, Japan

Researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology have devised a low-cost, scalable approach to developing all-solid-state batteries, improving prospects for scaling up the technology for widespread use in electric vehicles, communications and other industrial applications. Described in a paper in the ACS journal Chemistry of Materials , the approach involves substituting germanium in the solid electrolyte for two more readily available elements: tin and silicon. The new material achieved an ionic conductivity that exceeds that of liquid electrolytes. Reporting the findings, Ryoji Kanno and colleagues stated: “ This germanium-free lithium conductor could be a promising candidate as an electrolyte in all-solid-state batteries. ” All-solid-state systems with solid electrolytes (SEs) are potential candidates for next-generation batteries […]

US Said to Stymie Japan’s Plan to Explore for Russian Oil

15 Jul 2017   Japan, Russia, USA

A Japanese group’s plans to explore for Russian oil with state-run Rosneft PJSC have been stymied by U.S. intervention over sanctions, according to people familiar with the matter. Washington’s objection to the Japanese project to explore for oil in the ocean off Russia’s Far East shows the U.S. Treasury is maintaining a firm line on sanctions, even as some international companies press on with Russian energy deals. In April, the U.S. turned down a request from Exxon Mobil Corp. for a waiver to allow it to drill with Rosneft in the Black Sea. Rosneft signed a preliminary deal with a Japanese consortium of Japan Oil, Gas & Metals National Corp., known as Jogmec, Inpex Corp., and Marubeni Corp. for offshore exploration at a license […]

The World’s Largest LNG Buyer Just Completely Reshaped The Market

1 Jul 2017   Japan, LNG

That’s Japan — home to some of the world’s biggest buyers of liquefied natural gas (LNG), including the world’s #1 consuming firm, Jera. And authorities here aren’t happy about the way LNG contracts have been run up until now. Here’s the crux: historically, many LNG purchase agreements included so-called “destination clauses”. Stipulating that LNG buyers had to use the supply in a single, stated export destination. That meant that LNG purchasers in Japan had to use their cargos in Japan. Even if it turned out they had too much supply, they couldn’t re-sell their LNG on the global market to reduce the surplus. But the Japanese Fair Trade Commission said Wednesday that won’t fly anymore. With the trade body saying destination clauses probably violate anti-monopoly rules — and therefore will be outlawed in any future purchasing contracts for Japanese buyers. Japanese firms are now bound by this ruling. Meaning […]

Fukushima nuclear disaster: Tepco executives on trial

30 Jun 2017   Japan

Tsunehisa Katsumata (L), Ichiro Takekuro and Sakae Muto all deny the accusations Three former power company executives have gone on trial in Japan on charges linked to the Fukushima disaster. It is the first criminal trial over the 2011 meltdown at the nuclear plant. The meltdown, triggered by an earthquake which caused a massive tsunami, was the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986. All three have pleaded not guilty to professional negligence resulting in death and injury of patients evacuated from a hospital near the plant. The quake and tsunami left around 18,500 people dead or missing and left large areas uninhabitable. Who is on trial? The three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) are chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, 77, and vice-presidents Sakae Muto, 66, and Ichiro Takekuro, 71. If found guilty, they could face up to five years in prison. The trial is the first and […]

Gazprom considering Japanese gas pipeline

9 Jun 2017   Japan, Russia

Japan could start getting a secure line for natural gas from Russia if the conditions are right, Russian energy company Gazprom said. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI June 8 (UPI) — If the economics of an agreement are constructive, Japan could eventually get its natural gas from a Russian pipeline, a Gazprom executive said. Japanese companies are playing a role in the development of liquefied natural gas projects led by Gazprom in the Yamal Peninsula in the far north and on the Pacific coast. Alexander Medvedev , the deputy chairman of the country, said that could open doors for a Japanese gas pipeline as well. “We cannot exclude on the basis of general preconditions that construction of such a pipeline will be economically feasible,” he was quoted as saying by Russia news agency Tass. “Prospects and the situation are good; all our counterparts are set for fruitful work.” In the […]

Seven more Fukushima residents diagnosed with thyroid cancer

7 Jun 2017   Japan, Nuclear

Seven more Fukushima Prefecture residents who were aged 18 or under at the time of the 2011 nuclear accident have been found to have thyroid cancer, the prefectural government said Monday. The number of Fukushima residents suffering from thyroid cancer now totals 152, the prefectural government said in a meeting of an expert panel. Hokuto Hoshi, head of the panel and vice chair of the prefectural medical association, called it “unlikely” that radiation was responsible for the increase. The prefectural government has conducted three sets of thyroid checkups following the March 2011 triple meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. The checkups also covered people who evacuated to other prefectures. The second round of checkups from 2014 confirmed five new sufferers, and a third round launched in May last year uncovered two more. The panel decided to consider improving its counting method, […]

Toshiba Warns It May Be Unable to Stay in Business

12 Apr 2017   Japan, Nuclear

Toshiba Corp. on Tuesday expressed doubt for the first time that it can survive in light of huge losses at its U.S. nuclear subsidiary, which filed for bankruptcy last month. The company issued the warning alongside its latest earnings report, which came two months late and without the approval of its auditor. Toshiba, which traces…

This Government Is Drilling A NatGas Project Unlike We’ve Ever Seen

12 Apr 2017   Japan

Quick update to my recent story on Libya’s largest oil field shutting down — with reports yesterday suggesting that the Sharara field has once again gone offline following possible rebel activity along connecting pipelines. That’s a critical development for global crude markets. And upcoming events in another part of the world may be equally important for the natural gas space. Commercial testing of a completely new natgas source, in the key market of Japan. The target here is methane hydrates — massive accumulations of natural gas that occur around the world on the seafloor. Which the Japanese government has been investigating for nearly 15 years as a potential new source of energy supply. Up until now, production of natgas from methane hydrate has been completely theoretical. But it’s about to get real — with Japanese officials saying that a drill ship is poised to begin commercial testing of a […]

Toshiba Can’t Shake Its Westinghouse Woes

12 Apr 2017   Japan

In a widely-expected move, Toshiba’s troubled nuclear construction business Westinghouse filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the end of last month. Now the company is up for sale, after it cost Toshiba some $6.3 billion in asset write-downs, triggering a net overall loss estimated at $9.1 billion for 2016. The Japanese conglomerate is undoubtedly eager to curb these losses, but it is facing a serious problem: there is not an abundance of bidders. What some energy industry observes have called a nuclear renaissance for the U.S. has failed to materialize in full. The reasons for this are numerous and diverse, ranging from a slowdown in power demand instead of an expected increase, to cheap natural gas, rendering nuclear’s competitiveness virtually non-existent. Westinghouse is actually a great case in point: its troubles may not have started with the setbacks in ran into with its two new projects in the […]

‘You Are All Liars’: Toshiba Shareholders Vent After Westinghouse Bankruptcy

30 Mar 2017   Japan, Nuclear

MAKUHARI, Japan—Toshiba Corp. shareholders, some of them in tears, denounced management at a shareholders’ meeting Thursday outside Tokyo and asked why Toshiba had plowed billions of dollars into a now-bankrupt U.S. nuclear business. “Shame on you!” shouted one elderly shareholder. “You are all liars. How could you ask us to trust management?” The event took place less than 24 hours after a chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by…

Toshiba approves Chapter 11 filing for nuclear unit Westinghouse: Nikkei

29 Mar 2017   Japan, Nuclear

The board of Japan’s Toshiba Corp  has approved a Chapter 11 filing for its U.S. nuclear unit Westinghouse, the Nikkei business daily reported on Wednesday. A Toshiba spokeswoman said the company cannot comment on issues discussed at its board meetings. (Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

Six Years After Fukushima, Much of Japan Has Lost Faith in Nuclear Power

24 Mar 2017   Japan, Nuclear

The Japanese government should consider a fundamental change in its current nuclear energy policy if it wants to recover the public’s trust in nuclear power, writes Tatsujiro Suzuki, Director of the Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition at Nagasaki University. According to Suzuki, staying on the current path will undermine Japan’s economic and political security. Courtesy of The Conversation. Six years have passed since the Fukushima nuclear disaster on March 11, 2011, but Japan is still dealing with its impacts. Decommissioning the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant poses unprecedented technical challenges. More than 100,000 people were evacuated but only about 13 percent have returned home, although the government has announced that it is safe to return to some evacuation zones. In late 2016 the government estimated total costs from the nuclear accident at about 22 trillion yen , or about US$188 billion – approximately twice as high as its […]

Japan’s Top Oil Experts Seek Solutions to Chinese Fuel Flood Problem

22 Mar 2017   China, Japan

Huddled deep within Tokyo’s government district, nearly two dozen of Japan’s top oil experts pore over a problem plaguing its energy industry: how can they stop China from pushing its crude refiners into a corner? The task force, summoned by the trade ministry, needs a strategy to save oil refiners battered by years of declining demand at home. The processors, including JX Holdings Inc. and Idemitsu Kosan Co., now face rising competition for sales in Asia, the world’s biggest oil market. The ministry fears that China’s move to adopt stricter fuel standards will spur regional rivals into producing higher quality products, forcing Japan out of the market. “We’ve been saying for more than 20 years that Japanese refiners should become stronger,” said Hidemasa Nishiyama, director of the trade ministry’s petroleum refining and reserve division. “The external environment has changed: the capacity of China and other countries is becoming excessive, […]

Robot Successfully Reports Killer Radiation Levels Inside Fukushima Reactor

21 Mar 2017   Japan, Nuclear

Tokyo Electric on Sunday confirmed lethally high radiation levels inside the primary containment vessel (PCV) of the heavily damaged unit 1 of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. A magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 resulted in the meltdown of three of Fukushima’s six reactors. The disaster in Japan left around 19,000 people dead and more than 100,000 homeless. In the largest nuclear incident since Chernobyl, radiation levels were so high that every robot sent to explore the site has failed. Russia-Japan Relations Have Good Prospects if Tokyo Cuts Ties With ‘American Cerberus’ Finally, on Saturday the PMORPH robot inserted into unit 1 in the first of a series of four missions into the PCV basement area managed to provide the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) with the radiation and temperature measurements within it. Devices on the camera-equipped robot measured radiation levels of 7.8 sieverts per hour on a […]

Saudi King Visits Japan, Seeks Help on Diversifying Economy

13 Mar 2017   Japan, Saudi Arabia

King Salman and hundreds of business leaders from Saudi Arabia are in Japan for talks Monday mainly expected to focus on economic ties. The visit is the first by a Saudi king in 46 years, though Salman visited more recently as crown prince. Saudi Arabia is one of Japan’s biggest suppliers of crude oil, accounting for about a third of its total imports of oil from the Middle East. The kingdom is striving to diversify its economy away from its heavy reliance on oil exports, and Salman is on a month-long tour of Asia to advance his kingdom’s economic and business interests. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters Monday that Japan is willing to provide support for the economic power […]

Fukushima Mysteries Rattle Japan’s Nuclear Industry

10 Mar 2017   Japan, Nuclear

Six years after Japan’s nuclear disaster, popular resistance has stymied efforts to rebuild an atomic energy industry that was once among the world’s biggest, as mysteries endure over the calamity. Authorities are struggling to determine what precisely happened after the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors here, triggering an evacuation of thousands of people and costing…

New Radiation Level at Fukushima Dwarfs the Highest Peak at Chernobyl

8 Feb 2017   Japan, Nuclear

The Fukushima Disaster We noted a few days after the Japanese earthquake that the amount of radioactive fuel at Fukushima dwarfs that at Chernobyl … and that the cesium fallout from Fukushima already rivaled Chernobyl (we also noted that Fukushima radiation could end up on the West Coast of North America. And see this .). The next month, we pointed out that Tepco admitted that the radiation from Fukushima could exceed that from Chernobyl . And that Fukushima’s reactors had actually suffered something much worse than a total meltdown: nuclear melt- throughs , where the nuclear fuel melted through the containment vessels and into the ground. A few months later, we reported that radiation will pollute the area around Chernobyl for 5 to 10 times longer than models predicted – between 180 and 320 years . The following year, we pointed out that the operator of the Fukushima plant […]

Radiation Level At Fukushima At Highest Since 2011 Disaster

4 Feb 2017   Japan, Nuclear

Radiation levels in one part of reactor no.2 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station are the highest since the disaster in March 2011, media report , quoting the facility’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), as saying. Tepco inspected the site via a camera attached to a guiding pipe, and according to Nikkei Asian Review, the company has estimated that an area of the containment vessel was emitting radiation of 530 sieverts per hour–enough to kill a person in under a minute. Prior to this, emissions of up to 73 Sv/hour had been detected at the reactor after it was melted in the nuclear disaster almost six years ago. Tepco said on Tuesday that the camera “captured intriguing images that may be fuel debris from the March 2011 accident, but further examination is necessary before that can be verified”. Yesterday the company said : “After some examination of digital […]

Toshiba reckoning looms with chip decision, nuclear hole unresolved

27 Jan 2017   Japan, Nuclear

Toshiba Corp faces a day of reckoning on Friday, when it is expected to offer an initial estimate of the multibillion-dollar charge it must take on its U.S. nuclear business, but this will be only a step in a series of tough choices on the Japanese conglomerate’s survival. Toshiba’s board meets to approve plans to spin off its semiconductor business as a separate company, hoping to raise more than 200 billion yen ($1.74 billion) by selling as much as a fifth of the core money-making unit, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said. But as the proceeds would be just a fraction of the hole from cost overruns in its Westinghouse nuclear business – which local media put at 680 billion yen ($6 billion) […]

Fuel removal at Fukushima reactor again faces delay

24 Dec 2016   Japan, Nuclear

Work to retrieve spent nuclear fuel in the No. 3 reactor building storage pool of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant will again be postponed due to a delay in clearing radioactive debris at the site. TEPCO planned to begin removing 566 spent nuclear fuel assemblies in the storage pool in January 2018. However, the government and the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., decided on the postponement, sources said on Dec. 22. They will decide on a new timetable in a few weeks. The work was initially scheduled for fiscal 2015, but had been pushed back because of high radiation readings in and around the No. 3 reactor building. The building was heavily damaged by a hydrogen explosion in the days following the disaster, triggered by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. TEPCO had attempted to lower radiation levels by clearing the radioactive debris […]

Japan pulls plug on Monju, ending $8.5 billion nuclear self-sufficiency push

21 Dec 2016   Japan, Nuclear

Japan on Wednesday formally pulled the plug on an $8.5 billion nuclear power project designed to realize a long-term aim for energy self-sufficiency after decades of development that yielded little electricity but plenty of controversy. The move to shut the Monju prototype fast breeder reactor in Fukui prefecture west of Tokyo adds to a list of failed attempts around the world to make the technology commercially viable and potentially cut stockpiles of dangerous nuclear waste. “We do not accept this,” Fukui Governor Issei Nishikawa told ministers involved in the decision. “This abrupt change in policy breeds deep feelings of distrust for the government,” said Nishikawa who strongly backed the project because of the jobs and revenue it […]

Japan examines possible gas deals with Russia

17 Dec 2016   Japan, Russia

A Japanese energy company said it was exploring the options to work alongside one of Russia’s larger gas players on liquefied natural gas options. Japanese company Marubeni Corp. said it signed a memorandum of understanding with Novatek, Russia’s largest independent natural gas company. Under the terms of the understanding, both sides will explore options for supplies of liquefied natural gas possibly from an Arctic line. “By further deepening its cooperative relationship with Novatek through energy resources co-development in Russia and trade in hydrocarbon resources, Marubeni is committed to contributing not only to the mutually beneficial relationship between Japan and Russia, but to the stable supply of energy to Japan,” the Japanese company said […]

Shale Revolution That Shocked U.S. Markets Heads to Japan

9 Dec 2016   Japan

The U.S. shale revolution that turned North American energy markets upside down is finally headed to the world’s largest consumer of liquefied natural gas: Japan. Jera Co., a joint venture between Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. and Chubu Electric Power Co., will get its first LNG cargo produced from the formations in early January, spokesman Atsuo Sawaki said. It would be the first supply to reach the Asian nation from Cheniere Energy Inc.’s Sabine Pass terminal. The shipment brings to fruition a contract signed more than two years ago. While U.S. exports are still relatively small, they are having an impact because the contracts are tied to U.S. natural gas prices instead of crude oil that most of the LNG coming to Japan is linked to. They also allow for switching of cargo destinations — a key concern for importers such as Japan that are pressuring producers for […]

Earthquake Doesn’t Deter Japan From Pursuing Nuclear Agenda

29 Nov 2016   Japan, Nuclear

Mihama Plant Japan’s post-Fukushima nuclear future is again being questioned in the wake of regulatory authorities’ decision to extend the life of three reactors at two nuclear power plants despite another aftershock. A decision by the Nuclear Regulation Authority of Japan to extend the life of three reactors at two nuclear power plants in the Fukui Prefecture has rekindled worry about a possible repeat of the 2011 Fukushima disaster, as it comes only a week after the neighboring Fukushima Prefecture was rocked by a 7.4 aftershock. The decision will see the #3 reactor of Kansai Electric Power Co’s Mihama plant, along with two more, operate for another 20 years, bringing their total lifetime to 60 years. The other two reactors that received a life extension are part of the Takahama power plant. The earthquake that shook Fukushima last Monday caused a stoppage in the cooling system of the Fukushima […]

Japan Is Aggressively Buying Up Oil And Gas Around The World

25 Nov 2016   Japan

This coming year could be a surprisingly exciting time for oil and gas developers. Yes, energy prices are depressed right now. But not everyone sees that as a negative. In fact, private equity funds are still raising record amounts of capital for energy investments — with managers and investors alike seeing the current downturn as a prime time to pick up good assets for cheap. Most of that PE money is earmarked for U.S. shale. But this week’s announcements from Indonesia state oil firm Pertamina, and Japanese government arm Jogmec, show that the spending spree may now be extending to global oil and gas assets. Pertamina had $700 million this year for acquisitions — and will likely have billions for the coming year. Jogmec is even more flush with cash — having arranged financial backing totaling $5.2 billion yearly for oil and gas M&A. That’s a lot of cash […]

Electric drive spooks Japan car executives

22 Nov 2016   Electric Cars, Japan

Toyota and Mazda — the two Japanese automotive groups most sceptical about electric vehicle technology — have finally revealed plans to mass-produce battery-powered cars. They are late to a game that most of the world’s carmakers — including Volkswagen, Daimler, General Motors and Jaguar Land Rover are already playing, as they confront the rise of US electric vehicle start-up Tesla.  But, even as many see a golden age of electric vehicles just around the next corner, it is hard to ignore a sense of unease privately expressed by some Japanese car executives as the industry makes a unified drive towards electrification.  In announcing their intentions, both Toyota and Mazda stressed that they had no choice but to prepare an electric vehicle offering to meet stringent regulations on carbon dioxide emissions in both China and the US. Their decisions were passive, rather than a proactive move to capture the electric vehicle market. Neither indicated they had made any major breakthroughs in battery technology — nor did they express confidence in making money from electric vehicles.

Three and a half years after Fukushima, 3 of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors are operating

14 Sep 2016   Japan, Nuclear

U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Institute of Energy Economics, Japan, and IAEA Power Reactor Information System Source: Since the accident at Fukushima Daiichi in March 2011 and the subsequent shutdown of nuclear reactors in Japan, five reactors have received approval to restart operations under the new safety standards imposed by Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA). Only three of those reactors are currently operating. Applications for the restart of 21 other reactors, including 1 under construction, are under review by the NRA. Some reactors that meet the new NRA safety standards and have been approved to restart continue to face legal or political opposition that may delay or forestall their restart. After the Fukushima accident, all 54 of Japan’s reactors were shut down. Twelve reactors totaling 7.2 gigawatts (GW) were permanently closed. Restart applications for 20 previously operating reactors (totaling 19.5 GW) and 1 new reactor under construction (the […]

Japan’s ‘Hail Mary’ at Fukushima Daiichi: An Underground Ice Wall

30 Aug 2016   Japan, Nuclear

The part above ground doesn’t look like much, a few silver pipes running in a straight line, dwarfed by the far more massive, scarred reactor buildings nearby. More impressive is what is taking shape unseen beneath: an underground wall of frozen dirt 100 feet deep and nearly a mile in length, intended to solve a runaway water crisis threatening the devastated Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Japan. Officially named the Land-Side Impermeable Wall , but better known simply as the ice wall, the project sounds like a fanciful idea from science fiction or a James Bond film. But it is about to become a reality in an ambitious, and controversial, bid to halt an unrelenting flood of groundwater into the damaged reactor buildings since the disaster five years ago when an earthquake and a tsunami caused a triple meltdown . Built by […]

Nissan revolution: could new petrol engine make diesel obsolete?

Japanese automaker Nissan Motor Co has come up with a new type of gasoline engine it says may make some of today’s advanced diesel engines obsolete. The new engine uses variable compression technology, which Nissan engineers say allows it at any given moment to choose an optimal compression ratio for combustion – a key factor in the trade-off between power and efficiency in all gasoline-fuelled engines. The technology gives the new engine the performance of turbo-charged gasoline engines while matching the power and fuel economy of today’s diesel and hybrid powertrains – a level of performance and efficiency the conventional gasoline engine has so far struggled to achieve. The potential breakthrough technology comes at a time when diesel engine technology has been tarnished by Volkswagen’s ( VOWG_p.DE ) emissions cheating scandal. The German […]

Japan Steps on Gas in Bid to Reshape LNG Market

20 Jun 2016   Japan

Japan, the world’s largest importer of natural gas, is testing its clout while trying to rewrite the rules of a saturated market. Japanese buyers are chafing at the premiums they have long paid for liquefied natural gas. The nation’s giant utilities are renegotiating contracts, questioning practices such as linking LNG and crude-oil prices, and pushing back on restrictions that prevent them from reselling surplus cargoes. The moves are part of government-backed efforts to crack open an opaque, rigid market in which Asian buyers pay higher prices, and to establish Japan as an LNG trading hub so the island nation has more influence over a key source of fuel. Japanese buyers and policy makers see an opening now as excess supply is driving prices sharply lower. “Now is our chance, and we have a window of three or four years to act,” before the balance of supply and demand might […]

Five Years Later, TEPCO Still Can’t Locate 600 Tons Of Melted Radioactive Fuel

27 May 2016   Japan, Nuclear

Five years after the Fukushima tragedy, TEPCO’s chief of decommissioning Naohiro Masuda admits that the company still has no idea exactly where 600 tons of melted radioactive fuel from three nuclear reactors is located . As we discussed when we profiled the status of Fukushima on its five year anniversary , the radiation at the plant is still so powerful that it is impossible to get deep enough into the area to find and remove the melted fuel rods. The situation is so severe that even the robots that were sent in to find the highly radioactive fuel have died. Masuda went on to say that the company still hopes to locate and remove the missing fuel, but the fuel extraction technology is yet to be determined – that assumes they are able to locate it of course. “It’s important to find it as soon as possible. Once we […]

Cheap Oil Doesn’t Light Fire for Big Japanese Utility

25 Apr 2016   Japan

Like most energy importers, Japan’s gas utilities have enjoyed the collapse in crude oil prices. Yet the market is understating the risks at one utility, including its duplicate role as an energy investor. Osaka Gas , 9532 -1.49 % one of Japan’s largest suppliers of natural gas, imports liquefied natural gas that is often linked to oil prices. Though the utility passes on lower costs to customers, this comes with a lag, the effect of which is even more powerful if crude oil keeps falling. In the December quarter, Osaka Gas reported a 55.4% increase in net profit from the year before, despite a 10.5% decrease in sales. But while a sustainable oil rebound may be unlikely , neither may there be much room for it to continue falling . As some producers cut back, Brent futures are pricing a slight rise later this year. A liquefied natural gas […]

Japan’s 2016-17 non-power oil demand to fall 1.6% on year to 2.92 mil b/d

1 Apr 2016   Japan

Japan’s domestic oil product demand except for power generation is forecast to fall 1.6% year on year to 169.348 million kl, or 2.92 million b/d, in fiscal 2016-17 (April-March), according to a forecast presented by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry Friday. METI’s 2016-17 forecast is part of its five-year oil demand outlook based in kiloliters, which excludes a forecast for fuel oil demand for power generation due to uncertainty over nuclear plant restarts. Under the forecast approved Friday by the ministry’s oil market trends working group under its oil and natural gas subcommittee, Japan’s oil product demand except for power generation is to fall an average 1.7% annually over the next five years to 157.761 million kl (2.72 million b/d) in 2020-21. For fiscal 2016-17, Japan’s overall oil product demand will decline on the year except for kerosene and gasoil. Kerosene demand is forecast to edge up […]

A look at the Fukushima and Chernobyl nuclear disasters

29 Mar 2016   Japan, Nuclear

Japan this month (March) marked the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster with a series of sombre remembrance ceremonies across the country. At 2.46pm local time (1.46pm in Singapore) on March 11, 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck under the Pacific Ocean, triggering a 10 metre wall of water that devastated the north-eastern coast of Japan. It caused meltdowns in three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi (No. 1) Nuclear Power Plant in the worst nuclear accident since the Chernobyl accident on April 26, 1986. Ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl tragedy in April, The Straits Times takes a close-up look at both disasters. HOW MANY PEOPLE WERE AFFECTED? Fukushima: Some 18,500 people died or are still missing from the earthquake and tsunami. Another 470,000 people were evacuated due to the nuclear fallout. They include those who live within a 20km radius from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear […]

Analysis: US to be among Japan’s top 10 oil suppliers in May

24 Mar 2016   Japan

Refiners took advantage of workable arbitrage The US is set to become one of Japan’s top 10 oil suppliers in May when roughly 2 million barrels of US crude and condensate arrive in the month, just months after Washington lifted crude export restrictions put in place 40 years ago. Japanese refiner TonenGeneral will receive its first UfS crude cargo on a Suezmax tanker for delivery at its 258,000 b/d Kawasaki refinery in Tokyo Bay in early May after its recent purchase, market sources said Wednesday. TonenGeneral’s US crude cargo will arrive in Japan around the same time as fellow refiner Cosmo Oil’s 1 million barrels of US crude and condensate cargoes after delays in loading schedules, market sources said. Article continues below… Oilgram News brings you fast-breaking global petroleum and gas news on and including: Industry players, upstream […]

Japan to import U.S. crude in May, second cargo since export ban lifted: sources

16 Mar 2016   Japan, USA

 Japan will receive a U.S. crude cargo in May, the country’s second purchase from the United States since Washington lifted a four-decade ban on crude exports, industry sources said on Wednesday. Phillips 66 has sold a Panamax-sized cargo likely to Japanese refiner TonenGeneral for delivery in May, the sources said. Phillips 66 could not be immediately reached for comment. A TonenGeneral spokesman declined to comment. (Reporting by Liz Hampton in HOUSTON, Osamu Tsukimori in TOKYO and Florence Tan in SINGAPORE; Editing by Tom Hogue)

Fukushima Keeps Fighting Radioactive Tide 5 Years After Disaster

11 Mar 2016   Japan, Nuclear

Of the thousands of workers who have answered the help-wanted ads at Fukushima Daiichi, the ruined and radioactive nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan , the part-time lettuce farmer and occasional comic-book artist Kazuto Tatsuta must be among the least likely. “I needed a job,” Mr. Tatsuta, 51, recalled of his decision in 2012 to accept work at the site of one of the world’s worst nuclear accidents. His duties included welding broken water pipes and inspecting remote-controlled robots that survey radioactive hot spots. And his comic strips, once populated with baseball players and gangsters, now tell stories of middle-aged, blue-collar men like himself who do the grunt work at Fukushima, some of whom find a sense […]

Japanese Court Orders Shutdown of Nuclear Reactors

10 Mar 2016   Japan, Nuclear

A Japanese court issued an injunction to halt two of the four nuclear reactors restarted by the country’s utilities, backing local residents who were worried about a repeat of the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Kansai Electric Power Co. failed to show the public that its Takahama No. 3 and No. 4 reactors are safe for operation, the Otsu District Court said on Wednesday. The ruling requires an immediate halt to the No. 3…

Former Prime Minister Admits Fukushima Almost Completely Destroyed Japan

10 Mar 2016   Japan, Nuclear

This Friday, it will officially have been 5 years since the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami disabled Tepco’s nuclear power plant in Fukushima. But despite the passing of 5 years, we still don’t really know much damage this disaster really caused. We don’t know what the long-term effects will be on the environment, or on the people of Japan, and both Tepco and the Japanese government have lied to the world about the gravity of the situation. And the situation is still much more serious than they’ve been letting on. We know that plant is still leaking radiation, we know the ocean and the area surrounding Fukushima is still radioactive, and we know that the nuclear power plant is a flimsy house of cards that could crumble at any moment. But as bad as the situation was and still is at the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant, believe it or not, […]

Fukushima Still Rattles Japan, Five Years After Nuclear Disaster

9 Mar 2016   Japan, Nuclear

The radioactive rubble has been cleared. Poured concrete has covered the toxic dust. And many workers have traded hazmat suits for surgical masks.  Five years ago, a massive earthquake spawned a tsunami that flooded the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, prompting the world’s worst nuclear disaster in a quarter century. Near the plant, many residents are angry that they still can’t return home and grieve for their lost loved ones. But inside the razor-wire fence, the visual scars have mostly healed and an uneasy calm has returned.  “Finally we’re turning into a normal workplace,” plant chief Akira Ono said. “We can at last lay the groundwork and prepare for the task ahead.”  Much is riding on the appearance of normalcy at Fukushima.  As Prime Minister Shinzo Abe moves to reopen Japanese nuclear plants that were all shut after the disaster on March 11, 2011, a distrustful public is pushing back. A court on Wednesday ordered Kansai Electric Power Co. to halt two of the four reactors that have been restarted, saying the utility had failed to show the public they were safe. The utility called the ruling “unacceptable” and said it would appeal.  Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of Fukushima Daiichi, is seeking to reopen some of the seven reactors at its largest nuclear plant, Kashiwazaki-Kariwa. Nuclear supporters argue that resource-poor Japan has few other energy options that wouldn’t deepen its dependence on foreign energy sources and worsen its carbon footprint.

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Fukushima Disaster Will Wreak Environmental Havoc for Centuries

5 Mar 2016   Japan, Nuclear

A report from Greenpeace reveals that the destruction of ecosystems caused by the Fukushima meltdown is worse than the government lets on. Radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan will have a long legacy of environmental destruction with up to hundreds of years of devastating impacts on the ocean, waterways, plants, and animals, according to a new Greenpeace Japan report released Friday. The report, titled “Radiation Reloaded: Ecological Impacts of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident 5 years Later,” reveals that radiation from the 2011 nuclear plant meltdown has found its way into trees, butterflies, birds, fish, and the important coastal estuary ecosystem in the region. The findings also shed light on the “flawed assumptions” that have been shared as official information by the government of Shinzo Abe and the International Atomic Energy Agency. RELATED: Japan: Fukushima Radioactive Leak Continues in Ocean “The Abe government is perpetuating a myth […]

Mutations, DNA damage seen in Fukushima

5 Mar 2016   Japan, Nuclear

Conservation group Greenpeace warned on Friday that the environmental impact of the Fukushima nuclear crisis five years ago on nearby forests is just beginning to be seen and will remain a source of contamination for years to come. The March 11, 2011 magnitude 9.0 undersea earthquake off Japan’s northeastern coast sparked a massive tsunami that swamped cooling systems and triggered reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Radiation spread over a wide area and forced tens of thousands of people from their homes — many of whom will likely never return — in the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986. As the fifth anniversary of the disaster approaches, Greenpeace said signs of mutations in trees and DNA-damaged worms were beginning to appear, while “vast stocks of radiation” mean that forests cannot be decontaminated. In a report, Greenpeace cited “apparent increases in growth mutations of fir trees… heritable […]

Some Japanese Diesel Cars’ On-Road Emissions Higher Than in Lab Tests

4 Mar 2016   Air Quality, Japan

Japanese authorities said they found on-road emissions were much higher than in laboratory tests of certain diesel-powered vehicles made by Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. sold in Japan. Two Toyota vehicles and a Nissan vehicle tested on roads emitted up to 10 times the amount of nitrogen oxides, or NOx, than the standard they needed to meet in laboratory tests, while a Mitsubishi vehicle emitted up to five times the amount of NOx it needed to meet in a laboratory test, Japan’s transport ministry said in documents released earlier this week. The Japanese transport ministry tested six types of diesel vehicles. No illegal software was found in any of the tested cars and the auto makers haven’t violated any regulations, officials said. Diesel vehicles sold in Japan are currently subject to only laboratory tests for emissions, but the government is considering adding on-road testing. […]

Japan’s Tokyo Gas inks HOA to buy LNG from US Cameron project

3 Mar 2016   Japan

Japan’s Tokyo Gas signed a heads of agreement with Diamond Gas International, a fully owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corp, to buy about 200,000 mt/year of LNG, or three cargoes a year, from the US Cameron project for 19 years from 2020, the gas utility said Wednesday. The contract is linked to the US Henry Hub price and cargoes will be delivered on an ex-ship basis with no destination restrictions, Tokyo Gas said. With this agreement, Tokyo Gas will procure 2.12 million mt/year of US LNG linked to the Henry Hub price from 2020 onwards, accounting for 12-15% of its overall portfolio, the utility said. Tokyo Gas has earlier talked about its plan to start LNG trading, but Executive Officer and General Manager Kentaro Kimoto was cautious Wednesday. “We are not in the environment where trading comes easy,” he said. Swapping cargoes and optimizing Tokyo Gas’ LNG fleet would be […]

Former TEPCO Bosses Indicted Over Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

2 Mar 2016   Japan, Nuclear

Three former Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) executives were indicted on Monday for failing to take safety measures to prevent the nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi plant in 2011, a Tokyo District Court official said. The indictments, forced through by a civilian judicial panel, are the first against officials at Tepco and come just before the fifth anniversary of the meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear station north of Tokyo. In accordance with Japanese law, the three were indicted by prosecutors on charges of professional negligence resulting in injury and death. Bloomberg via Getty Images The prosecutors had not taken action against the former executives citing insufficient evidence, but a civilian judiciary panel forced the indictment when it ruled last July that they should be charged. The three are former chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, 75, and former executive vice presidents Sakae Muto, 65, and Ichiro Takekuro, 69. The three, […]